RCM tell Minsters in Northern Ireland a below inflation pay rise won’t do

By Gemma Murphy on 20 July 2022 Midwives RCM Member MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay NHS Pay Review Body RCM Northern Ireland

The RCM, together with other trade unions in Northern Ireland, has published a statement following yesterday’s pay award announcement in England for midwives and maternity support workers.

The below inflation pay award has been described as ‘unacceptable’ by the RCM which says members in Northern Ireland are alarmed by the Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendation of 4% for most RCM midwife members which is less than half the rate of inflation. There are also fears that the absence of a sitting Executive in Northern Ireland means any pay increase could be months away.

Today Health Minister Robin Swann has given an indication of how much RCM members in Northern Ireland can expect to receive from their pay increase. In a statement, Minister Swann said he ‘will accept the recommendations made by the Pay Review Bodies, but is unable to move forward without an agreed budget’.

The RCM says its members in Northern Ireland are also struggling with the rising cost of living and, as part of its Deliver a Decent Deal campaign, has called for an inflation busting pay rise.

Commenting, the RCM’s Regional Officer for Northern Ireland, Mary Caddell said;

“Following the announcement yesterday the RCM and fellow health service trade unions met to discuss the implications for our members here in Northern Ireland. We are deeply frustrated that the absence of a functioning Executive means our hardworking members remain in limbo. Inflation is continuing to rise and while there is no Government sitting in Stormont, members are naturally very worried.”

The RCM, together with the other health unions, has written to the Health Minister calling for an urgent meeting with him and the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health to hear how they intend to address the issues.

One important way of retaining midwives and maternity staff is to give them a decent pay rise and not making them worse off, the RCM says. Dedicated and committed RCM members have been propping up understaffed maternity services and working beyond their hours, often unpaid, to ensure safe care is delivered to women and their babies and now they are again being made wait for a much needed pay increase.

Mary added:

“What we do know is that any pay award cannot currently be implemented as the Northern Ireland Executive still do not have an agreed budget for 2022/23. This is something we will be discussing with the Minister when we meet. We will continue to fight for our members because we believe midwives and maternity support workers in Northern Ireland deserve a pay rise that keeps pace with the cost of living.”

The RCM says as and when a formal announcement is made it will consult with its members to obtain their views, as before. The results of any formal consultation with members in Northern Ireland will inform the next steps taken.